Girlguiding Eastbourne division and the 100th Year of the Shackleton Shield Challenge

Written by Lynette Benton, Girlguiding Eastbourne Division Commissioner

On Saturday 11 May 2019, Girlguiding Eastbourne division welcomed a very important guest – the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, granddaughter of the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. She was there because her grandmother, Lady Emily Shackleton, was the first division commissioner of Eastbourne. In 1919, Emily gave a shield to the Guides of the division. The Shackleton Shield had been kept carefully in our archives since 1991.

In 2018, we felt it was time the shield was used again, and we set our Guides a Now and Then Challenge to compete for it. In the process we realised that it was 100 years since the shield had been given, but the icing on the cake was that Alexandra’s aide saw a write-up of the Challenge and Alexandra offered to come down to present the shield to the winners!

To honour both of Alexandra’s grandparents, the event started with the Guides being given a ‘ticket to Antarctica’. Eight teams of between four to six girls arrived to board the ‘Endurance’, where they received passports. During the day they visited three outposts:

  • Ocean Camp, where they had to build a shelter and make a compass and a trail.
  • Elephant Island, where they made a sled and pulled it while wrapped up in several layers! They also had to decide what they would take in the boat (which was a real dinghy with a sail) or leave in the snow.
  • South Georgia, where they had to cross a ravine and treat and carry a person who had broken their leg.

Our day was really fun because we did lots of different activities and we had lots of food, and the huskies were really cute!

The last challenge was to walk as a team on skis. Each team also had to cook their own lunch of ‘Shackleton Soup’ over a wood fire. After lunch, there was a short respite when the girls met several sled-pulling husky dogs. We also had snow machines and a penguin hunt!

Even though the rain showered down on our warm fires we persevered and had an amazing time cooking, exploring and making.

Alexandra Shackleton presented the shield to the 41st Eastbourne Guides before VIPs, girls, volunteers and their families enjoyed a hog roast in the sunshine at Bushy Wood Activity Centre.

I enjoyed making lunch on a fire - and the hog roast!

Presenting the shield was not the only duty we asked Alexandra to do whilst she was at Bushy Wood. Last year through the Co-op Community Fund, Girlguiding Eastbourne division raised £6000. This was much more than was expected and we had said we would spend it at Bushy Wood. We built a camp store for our equipment and with the money left over we have had a wet room and new leader’s bedroom put in what was the old Scout Hut. We are pleased to say that the hut has now been rechristened ‘Shackleton Lodge’ by Sir Ernest and Lady Shackleton’s granddaughter – the Hon Alexandra Shackleton.

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